*New restaurant klaxon* Rockfish Exeter is open. Here are a few things on the menu that you should try
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you will probably have noticed that popular South West seafood restaurant, Rockfish, is now open on Exeter Quay. Before they opened their doors I got a sneak peek at the new restaurant, a taste of the menu and an insight into the business from the owner, Mitch Tonks; seafood ambassador, acclaimed restauranteur and chef behind The Seahorse.
The restaurant itself is 2600 sq ft, seats over 90 inside and a further 60 outside, sitting pretty with a view of the water on both sides the glass building. Mitch explains;
We put planning permission in originally for a lovely wooden building that I thought would be great, but the planners just didn’t want that. They wanted this glass building. It’s not something I would ordinarily want to put a restaurant in; it’s just hard to make character work so we had to work exceptionally hard to try and make it feel like this could be a fish restaurant.
We can confirm that they have done a great job, it looks lush and the panoramic glass windows give the effect on being on the river in a boat.
We’ve been big fans of Rockfish for a while, we have eaten at Mitch’s restaurants in Brixham, Plymouth and Exmouth and I was very keen to try the new menu (I wasn’t disappointed). Mitch explained that they have introduced an appetiser section to the menu so people have something to nibble.
I went to Spain to source the products and I sourced these amazing peppers – Guindilla peppers – and they are sweet, sour and salty. I’ve got this thing that if you’re eating fried or grilled fish, you need a pickle with it.
The Guindilla peppers weren’t what I expected, they were deliciously sweet with a sliver of sour – I could quite happily have eaten all of them.
Then came the starters…
Delicious Crisp Fried Salt and Pepper Squid with a Singapore Style Chilli Sauce (that I couldn’t stop eating). I asked Mitch what was in the magic powder that was sprinkled on the dish. He explained that it was a mix of four different peppercorns including ‘Nepalese grapefruit pepper’ which he gave us to try. I don’t think I have tried anything like it, it exploded in my mouth, I described it as a miniature version of Roald Dahl’s everlasting gobstopper – high impact with an ever-changing flavour that lasted for ages! *I recommend you try this dish*
We also had hand Cut sashimi-style Smoked Salmon cured in brown sugar. Now, I am not a fan of smoked salmon, I would go as far as to say that I really don’t like it. But given that it was a night of trying new things – John Harvey had his first cockles, Chris Gower his first oyster – I felt that I needed to try this dish just to make sure. Whilst the texture of smoked salmon still didn’t work for me, the flavour was on point. If you are a salmon fan, you will be delighted by this dish!
The pinnacle of the starter dishes for me was the Prawn Ceviche. Mitch explained that the red prawns are squashed between acetate to create the delicate circular sheet. Sitting proudly on top of the prawns, the smashed avocado, chilli, onion, coriander and lime add freshness and zing to the dish. This is definitely one to try if you want something a bit different.
On to the mains:
We had a taste of the Traditional Battered Fish in perfect batter with chips that were fried to perfection, the Chargrilled Brixham Calamari or cuttlefish, and my personal favourite; Seabass Chargrilled with Rosemary, Garlic and Salsa Verde.
Rockfish are living their tagline “Tomorrow’s fish are still in the sea”. Each day brings new specials that are highlighted by the servers, you choose your fish and you chose how your fish is cooked. Mitch did point out quite early in the evening that Rockfish is most definitely a seafood restaurant but battered fish is a menu staple.
This is definitely not a fish and chip restaurant; we have fish and chips on the menu but it’s a seafood restaurant.
The entire menu is available gluten-free and all the battered fish is available grilled for those people who are watching their waistlines!
Salads are my bag and we were presented with several including; a celebration of all things summer in the form of the Grilled Courgette Salad with Lemon, Mint and Feta. A taste of the Med with a simple but exquisitely dressed Tomato Salad with basil, shallots and anchovy. Last but by no means least Thai inspired Som Tam with shredded cucumber, carrot, red onion, tomato, courgette, coriander & mint. Dressed in salted chilli & fresh lime. YUM.
All the food was washed down with their own wine Xarello from Catalonia, a light, dreamy wine that’s easy on the palate and compliments pretty much everything.
I’m going to leave you with a quote from the man himself (Mitch Tonks) about his expectations for the restaurant:
Being a seafood restaurant group we had to be in the county town of Devon and the location at the Quay right on the River Exe is just superb, great views, minutes from the city centre, but a hub of water-based activity that feels like you’re at the seaside. We want Exonians and visitors to this great city be able to enjoy the best most sustainable seafood whether it be grilled MSC hake or local Torbay devilled sprats, whilst being just a stone’s throw away from where it was caught.
You can see the full menu here.
Rockfish is open 7 days a week from midday to 9.30pm.
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Reservations are live (I think the first two weeks are fully booked!)
Throughout March 2019 Rockfish are having Wednesday night Wine nights at all Rockfish Restaurants. You can bring a bottle of wine or fizz from 5 pm when eating in the restaurant.
Have you been? Let us know what you think…
Tags: Eating out, eating out exeter, Exeter, exeter quay, restaurant, rockfish, rockfish exeter, seafood restaurant